May 23, 2018 – Universities have long depended on executive search firms to help with their leadership needs, but these days the higher education sector is broadening its efforts to find more specialized leaders. As a result, search firms have expanded their niche offerings in the sector, identifying diversity officer, athletic directors, coaches and any number of other top posts.
The latest specialized segment within the college and university spectrum to surface: finding leaders for academic research and information technology. Harris Search Associates, based in Dublin, OH, is considered one of the top search boutiques in this thriving area. The firm recently placed Amy Belew as chief information officer for the University of Tennessee at Martin. Managing partner Jeffrey Harris led the assignment.
Ms. Belew had been in the role in an interim capacity since late in 2016 and was one of four finalists to participate in open-forum campus discussions last month. The search committee for this position included both faculty and staff members as well as student representation. Rich Helgeson, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, served as committee chairperson.
“During her time as interim chief information officer, Amy helped guide information technology services through a reorganization and helped the campus community navigate changes to both our email client and our learning management system,” said Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor. “I have no doubt she will continue to help keep UT Martin technology current going forward.”
Ms. Belew came to UT Martin in 2000 as a systems analyst. She then served as an IT administrator before moving into a role as interim assistant CIO and interim director of systems administration and infrastructure, academic computing, security, video network, applications development and operations. She is also an alumna and holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master of business administration degree from UT Martin.
Keeping Talent Pipelines Full In the Academic Research and Health Sciences Fields
In the following interview, Jeffrey G. Harris, the firm’s founder and managing partner, discusses the general trends affecting higher education today, particularly the increased scrutiny placed on college management and why academic research and health sciences is experiencing rapid and disruptive change.
The university’s chief information officer directs a 40-person staff to support campus infrastructure, enterprise applications, instructional technology, and help desk and client support. The CIO also manages budgets for both the Information Technology Services and technology fee accounts and serves on the chancellor’s leadership team. In her new role, Ms. Below will also b responsible for establishing policies and procedures to maintain functionality of IT systems, minimize risks with appropriate security procedures, systems and policies.
UT Martin is one of five primary degree-granting institutions in the University of Tennessee system (Knoxville, Chattanooga, Tullahoma, Memphis and Martin). Given its rural location, much of the focus of the school has been on undergraduate studies in education and agriculture, although many other courses are offered, particularly in the liberal arts, and in recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on business, engineering and music.
Academic/Health Sciences Veterans
Harris Search Associates, an IIC Partners member firm, is a global executive search and board advisory consulting firm with 52 offices in 34 countries. Its practice is focused on identifying and attracting leaders to support the growth of clients in the research, science, engineering, academic medicine and commercial enterprises. Its clients include the foremost universities, research parks, institutes, academic medical centers and commercial organizations driving global innovation and discovery.
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“It may seem to be a narrow field of specialization upon first glance, but it is broad in its transformational impact,” said Jeffrey G. Harris, founder and managing partner, in regard to his firm’s specialization in academic research and health science. “The missions of the research university and academic medical center environment are complex and experiencing rapid disruptive change.”
“And, yet there are a relative few firms that are known and trusted in this specialized area. It has been an ongoing effort to remain known and trusted in this specialized sector as a result,” said Mr. Harris.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media